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We try to break Kiddle, the search engine for kids

Kiddle is a pretty good idea, in theory at least.

Billed as a “visual search engine for kids”, it relies on Google’s safe search as well as manual editing to make searching the internet safe for kids.

Besides those two filters, the way the results are presented are also decidedly kid-friendly. Results from children focused sites and less complicated writing gets those results closer to the top.  Large pictures and fonts round of accessibility with a promise not to store personal information for security. They also promise to delete their logs every 24 hours.

Now, at this point, we’d usually suggest that, if Kiddle is something you kids you know would be interested in, that you simple follow the above link to the site and check it out for you. But, we’ve already done some of  that.

Like Grade Ones in their first computer lab class, we searched out some things that, well, you wouldn’t want kids looking at. Kiddle also talks about a ” guard robot” blocking searches containing “bad words”, but how good is it?

In truth, it’s pretty competent. While a lot of our questionable searches came up with “Oops, looks like your query contained some bad words”, sometimes a genuine search will also be denied. For example, if you’re a kid learning about World War II, and you want to learn about “Nazis”, Mr Gaurd Robot will tell you “Sorry, can’t help you with this query”. Strangely, if you search out “The National Socialist German Workers’ Party” it will humor you.

Here’s some other oddities we found:

  • “Black Power” yields results while “White Power” does not.
  • Certain organs such as the testes, urethra and vagina are not allowed, but certain others are. Ovum, cervix, prostate and others are fine.
  • “Ass” does not show pictures of donkeys.
  • “Gore” is a surname and absolutely nothing more.
  • Looking up terrorism is fair game.
  • There’s still ample access to pictures of cats, as with all of the internet.

We’re sure all of the above can be explained away with some rational thought, and we’re sure the results will improve as more people use the service. That being said, if they keep their promise of not storing any data, they won’t have anything to look at to improve the algorithms.

If you’ve got a mind fo some things, it’s pretty easy to completely lock down a PC to make internet browsing much safer but, in a pinch and because of the ease of accessibility, Kiddle is actually pretty good. Don’t tell the kids they could just open up a new tab and use adult Google, though.


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